Dear Social Media, I am breaking up with you.

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Dear Social Media. I am breaking up with you. Its not you, its me.

A few weeks ago while mindlessly scrolling Facebook an open question from my friend Yvette stopped my supersonic scrolling finger in it’s twitchy little tracks;

How would you feel if social media disappeared overnight?
anxious.. relieved.. restricted.. free?

Free. That last word echoed a bit. Except it actually kept getting louder.

My gut clung to that word. However, as I started over thinking it the niggles appeared; would I become irrelevant? How would my business function without social media? Would I stop getting invited to things? How would I connect with people?

I had total FOMO. Fear of missing out on what exactly I don’t know. But I was scared. So I shelved the thought as ‘impossible”, “impractical” and “extreme”.

Fast forward a week or two and again my social media sensibilities were assaulted. My other friend Tara – whose wildly popular biz also has a strong social media element – rebelled. She shut down her personal and business Facebook account. Then I watched this jaw-doppingly beautiful video. And this one. Then my dear friend Claire wrote a post about it causing her a permanent low-level anxiety. Then my best friend (who is not even a regular Facebooker) told me she deleted her account because it started feeling icky. And I also saw THIS amazing photographic exhibition called The Death Of Conversation full of pictures of people on their phones (it’s much more poignant than it sounds).

This thing was started to get into all those hard-to-reach cracks of my brain. They were putting down roots. Believe me, I get the irony that this wisdom found us all via social media but regardless, everywhere I turned there were inspiring feats of social media rejection. People whose lives were getting better from the space. And more connected.

The clincher though? Me and three of my favorite people in the world went on a little holiday. We are all prolific social media users. Seriously, if ever there was a time to indulge in our Instagram inclinations – now was it. I was even considering it’s own hashtag – #sistersgosouth anyone? Bolstered by the one month complete ban that Claire had self-imposed we all decided to play with a social media fast. Try it on for size and see how it felt.

There was wine and cheese on a picturesque balcony overlooking a field full of lilies. (Which was interrupted when a Kookaburra landed and stole our whole block of expensive blue cheese). There were trips to beautiful surf breaks. There was the most insanely awesome yoga session in a totally taggable health institute. There were wineries, fancy lunches and feasts.There were sunsets, possums and a little Channing Tatum.

And we did it all without our phones. Guess how I felt? Yep, FREE.   We all did.

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Don’t get me wrong, social media is an amazing magical thing. So much more convenient than those damn messenger pigeons I used to use. It has brought us together right now, I have formed some of the closest friendships of my life via these online communities and I continue to meet amazing people through them. It is the way we are using it that is the problem. As distractions. As fillers of every second. As emotional crutches. We have forgotten what it is like to be alone.

Louis CK – a comedian who is as funny as he is glib (read: very) – puts it perfectly.

I killed my Facebook page years ago because time clicking around is just dead time. Your brain isn’t resting and it isn’t doing. I think people have to get their heads around this thing. All this unmitigated input is hurting folks.

And it really is. Some weight to add to that statement;

  • Our attention span has dropped by 40% since 2000. We now officially have an attention span that is one-second shorter than a goldfish (that’s 8 seconds, folks).
  • According to TIME, 80% of 18-24 year old people sleep with their phones right beside them, for easy access first and last thing.
  • Nomophobia – that’s a real disorder since 2008 and is defined as a fear of being without technology. (sounds an awful lot like FOMO-phobia… ammiright?)
  • Its affecting our children. Children are showing less empathy and are experiencing anxiety and depression when separated from their devices. They also have less ability to read facial expressions or interpret intonations.
  • It is now the leading cause of car accidents
  • Oh and according to data from the Screenlock App the average user checks their phone 110 times a day. Some up to 900! Really? Is that where we are?

Now I gave some really fab tips (if I do say so myself) about quitting technology over here and now I am deciding to actually, like, do it!

I have deleted the apps from my phone (bar instagram). I will be posting a lot less on my Facebook page (once a day will do just fine!). I deleted Twitter and LinkedIn completely. I have chosen to mainly communicate with you through the channels that make me feel most connected to you and myself – the blog and the newsletter (join the tribe here). Creative channels that make me feel all sparkly-like. We have also implemented a no phones at home policy because I really noticed the correlation between my phone use and Lucy’s behaviour. I allow myself to check email once a day. Surprising that these seemingly limiting rules make me feel so limitless!

So the reason I write this is an invitation. An invitation to join the movement while it gains momentum because as I discovered on my girls weekend, not all peer pressure is bad. Just like I did, just try it on. It might make you feel pretty damn amazing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you going to give it a go?
I’d love to hear in the comments…

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  • I have thought about doing this for a while, then the other day I just packed up and left the Facebook scene.
    I feel relieved and free, I bet none of my’friends’ have even noticed which suits me fine, I know who my mates are and I don’t need the icky feeling to enjoy their friendship.
    Woohoo!
    Love your illustrations, thank you for sharing with us love x

    • hi Sharon and Emily,

      Sharon, this makes so much sense rite this moment I think I am going to follow you on this one and finally disconnect. I posted my last big announcement on facebook today, it took me a few tens of minutes to complete. I recently came back from Miami, the one thing that put me off and ultimately opened my mind was how involved everyone is in the social media. I saw friends sat in a bar, looking at their phones so it put me off.
      im back in England, feeling alive, its day three I feel facebook creeping up as I seek friends attention. why, I have their numbers or Skype so why bother with facebook when really there is also a lot of bad stuff and I just don’t want that feeling in my life.
      my true friends will keep in touch with me other wise and this is big step but I am doing it. this is a good time, me me me is over and its about to get real.

      a good way to leave is with that happy post and the video from here, the black dude speaking truth. I hope someone sees it and if not. im done.
      thank you!

  • Yeah yeah!! Bring on the revolution baby!!

    #sistersgosouth made me LOL.

    I said to a client yesterday, “I feel as if my life is suddenly perfect, because I don’t have Instagram to tell me that it isn’t.”

    Ps. However, one of the best things about Instagram is that it led me to you.

  • hi Sharon and Emily,

    Sharon, I agree and it hit a spot with me. now is my turn to do this too. I recently came back from Miami where everything was Me Me Me and it made me sick to my stomach.

    I write my final post on Facebook today and then I posted this video from Emily’s newletter (which I love by the way) so yeah whether someone sees or not…guess what I am interested to see how my life goes without Facebook, who is going to be on the other side of the Email, Text message or Phone Call. Plenty of numbers, which ones work and which ones don’t, I am about to find out.

    Boomshanka.

    Thank you. I am actually happy to disactivate my facebook.

    Yes

  • This is such an interesting conversation!

    I sometimes have thought about removing myself from facebook, however there are some really worthwhile community groups I am part of that I enjoy, such as a local garage sale page, and organic food bulk buying groups. It was immensely helpful in the bush fire emergency we had in the Blue Mountains last year, where local people created pages for us to stay connected, to share local news instantly, and keep each other informed.

    So instead of disconnecting I am using it only for the tool that it is, in the ways I want to, and only checking it every few days…..if I think of it! 🙂 Love that freedom!

    I am just starting my business, and I have made a clear decision not to use facebook. I am creating a strategy for twitter, pinterest and instagram though, as I feel these platforms will serve what I am doing more effectively.

    Emily, thanks for being such an inspiration! xx